Coaching Cultures are Built on Beliefs
In the 2016 ICF and HCI study on Building a Coaching Culture with Managers and Leaders, we learned that “organizations with a strong coaching culture report recent revenue above their industry peer group.” A similar ICF / HCI study in 2018 noted that “organizations with strong coaching cultures are more likely to have better talent and business outcomes.”
Coaching culture can be defined as leveraging effective coaching practices and coaching competencies to enable leaders and managers to develop and maximize the potential of their teams. The advantages of a coaching culture in organizations are widely known and well-documented. We are seeing an increasing number of organizations attempting to build coaching cultures and create ecosystems that encourage the use of coaching. Yet, the expected outcomes and benefits realized by organizations have left much to be desired.
After extensive investments by organizations to train and encourage their managers and leaders to use coaching skills, the net results are often sporadic and scattered. We typically observe adoption and effective practice of coaching in pockets without the desired impact on building an overall culture of coaching.
What blocks a strong coaching culture from taking root?
The roots of this gap can be found in some of the common myths about building cultures and driving behavior shifts. It is often believed that we will adopt new practices and behaviors once we know the benefits of them – if we know exactly how to do it and why it’s good for us, we’ll definitely want to change. Does that sound familiar?
Looking around you, how many of us truly live healthy lifestyles or actively sustain our useful positive habits? Is knowing why and how truly enough to create learning application and shifts in behavior?
In more than 15 years of successfully leading organization and individual transformations, I’ve learned that real and sustainable shifts are created only when we can identify and impact the core beliefs that make us choose our behaviors.
When building coaching cultures in organizations, I’ve seen a disproportionate effort toward making a case for coaching and building coaching skills. We sometimes rush to provide leaders and managers with easy-to-use coaching models such as GROW (or the many variants) so they can start coaching. But while these models may be initially useful for leaders to feel more confident in navigating a coaching conversation, they fall abysmally short in creating the right structures, beliefs and approach which are essential to produce authentic coaches and a sustainable coaching culture.
The essence of powerful coaching and effective coaching cultures lies in our beliefs about and mindset towards the people we lead, coach and develop.
3 core beliefs that I’ve found are essential to build a coaching culture
Believing team members are capable and willing to find their own solutions. This allows us to authentically invite our team members to think rather than offering them answers.
Believing in the power of curiosity and exploration. Feeling comfortable with questions – both asking questions and being asked questions.
Believing in leadership. Celebrating the time we invest in the well-being and personal aspirations of our team members as a natural part of being a leader, not a painful demand of the system.
Inviting our leaders and potential coaches to reflect on the beliefs they hold about people and about the teams they lead is the beginning of the journey to coaching and a coaching culture. It begins with helping them honestly notice and ground the assessments they hold. It begins with inviting our leaders to consider unconditional positive regard as an approach to dealing with people and enabling them with the skills and mindset to create a safe space for their teams. It begins with inviting them to care about creating growth for their team members.
A lot of the popular recommendations such as integrating coaching into talent and leadership strategy, allowing team members to experience the power of coaching, training internal coaches etc. are very useful to build a coaching culture. But they are simply the tools. The real power lies in building the beliefs and the mindset of coaching.
©Shweta HandaGupta2022. Original author must be visibly credited in any duplication in whole or in part.